Barry Flanagan (1941-2009)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Barry Flanagan (1941-2009)

Leaping Hare on Curly Bell

Barry Flanagan (1941-2009)
Leaping Hare on Curly Bell
inscribed with the artist’s monogram, numbered ‘6/7’ and stamped with the AA Foundry mark (on the base)
bronze with black patina
90 3/8 x 73 5/8 x 42 ½in. (229.5 x 187 x 108cm.)
Executed in 1989, this work is number six from edition of seven, plus three artist's casts.
Waddington Galleries, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1991.
M. Glimcher (ed.), Adventures in Art: 40 Years at Pace, Milan 2001, pp. 400-401 (another cast illustrated).
Waddington Custot (ed.), Barry Flanagan, London 2017 (another cast illustrated in colour, pp. 62 & 65).
London, Waddington Galleries, Barry Flanagan, 1990, pp. 10 & 39, no. 4 (another cast exhibited and illustrated in colour, p. 11).
New York, The Pace Gallery, Barry Flanagan, 1990, no. 4 (another cast exhibited and illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Salisbury, Salisbury Cathedral Close and Courcoux & Courcoux Gallery, Sculpture by the Spire/Salisbury Festival, 1991.
Tokyo, Fuji Television Gallery, Barry Flanagan, 1991, no. 4 (another cast exhibited and illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Names of the Hare – Large Bronzes by Barry Flanagan: 1983-1990, 1992 (another cast exhibited).
Bakewell, Chatsworth House, Beyond Limits, 2012, p. 108, no. 6 (another cast exhibited and illustrated in colour, pp. 40, 42, 108; detail illustrated in colour, pp. 38-39).
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Lot Essay

Acquired by the present owner in 1991, Leaping Hare on Curly Bell (1989) is a dramatically-scaled work that brings together two of Barry Flanagan’s most important subjects. Cast in magnificent bronze, the hare is poised majestically upon the curve of a fallen bell, limbs outstretched in carefree abandon. Initially inspired by a sighting on the Sussex Downs, Flanagan began depicting the animal in the late 1970s. Described by curator Enrique Juncosa as ‘one of the most personal and recognisable artistic endeavours of the second half of [the twentieth] century’, the hare defined the artist’s earliest experiments with bronze casting, and has since come to dominate his oeuvre in a variety of guises (E. Juncosa, quoted in Barry Flanagan, exh. cat., Waddington Galleries, London, 1994, unpaged). Flanagan was fascinated not only by the creature’s lithe anatomy, but also by its rich mythological associations, as outlined in George Ewart Evans’ and David Thomspon’s 1974 book The Leaping Hare. Its mercurial folkloric connotations – from immortality and fertility in Chinese and ancient Egyptian cultures, to deception, trickery, cleverness and triumph – were counteracted by the bell, which for Flanagan symbolised the steady, unwavering passage of time. By combining the two motifs, the artist captured the twin poles of human existence: the inevitable call to order, and the joyful chaos of free will.

Flanagan’s hares made their public debut at the 1982 Venice Biennale. Their early appeal, as the artist later explained, lay in their near-human characteristics. ‘Thematically the choice of the hare is really quite a rich and expressive sort of model’, he has written; ‘... if you consider what conveys situation and meaning and feeling in a human figure, the range of expression is in fact far more limited than the device of investing an animal – a hare especially – with the attributes of a human being’ (B. Flanagan, quoted in Barry Flanagan. Sculpture and Drawing, exh. cat., Kunstausstellung der Ruhrfestspiele, Recklinghausen, 2002, p. 31). Often modelled on poses performed by his daughter, Flanagan’s hares soar, box, dance and wrestle, imbued with anthropomorphic wit. Whilst they have variously been interpreted as ciphers for the artist’s own enigmatic persona, their message of physical liberation is ultimately universal. As Paul Levy has written, ‘the existentialist action makes us free, and nothing is more free, vital, spontaneous and alive – from Aesop’s hare outrun by the tortoise to Bugs Bunny – than a capering hare. In France and most of Central Europe, it is the hare that lays eggs at Easter and so promises renewal. In fact, Flanagan’s hares do not carry much of this historic symbolic freight; they simply frolic freely and expressively. They don’t symbolise life, they live it’ (P. Levy, ‘Joy of Sculpture’, Barry Flanagan: Linear Sculptures in Bronze and Stone Carvings, exh. cat., Waddington Galleries, London, 2004, unpaged). Here, the constancy of the tolling bell is overthrown by the hare’s bounding gait: time stands still as it leaps into the void.

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